Horror game fans will be pleased to learn that the second half of Resident Evil Revelations 2 does enough to make the complete episodic bundle one of the better entries in the series in recent years.
Completing the twin stories of Claire and Moira, who have found themselves trapped in a twisted scientific experiment (where are the ethical scientists in the Resident Evil universe?) and the subsequent rescue effort of Moira’s dad, Barry and creepy little brick-lobbing girl Natalia, the final two episodes manage to pack in a couple of decent boss fights against memorable monstrosities, some emotional heft, and a few of the “...uh, what?”-style plot developments that have become a hallmark of the series.
While it’s anyone’s guess as to why the game has been released episodically over such a relatively short timespan, each episode does succeed in working as a little story package, with the mini-cliffhangers in at the end of each episode (and between each switch between sets of characters) doing a good job of propelling the narrative along. Story questions raised in episode three are fairly satisfyingly resolved in episode four, although the requirements of the narrative do lead to a pretty short turn at bat for Claire and Moira in this last episode, so fans of Moira’s torch-waving and swearing might end up feeling short changed.
The second half of the game really does nothing to alleviate the feelings of over-familiarity one gets from the gameplay and environments, but seems to rather consciously lean into the skid instead. Although the almost self-deprecating style of the early game's humour gives way to more traditional po-faced Resident Evil seriousness as the game nears its conclusion, the action draws on what is by now a huge, many-limbed and pustule-covered boss mutant of complete Resident Evil series lore to provide a bit of nostalgic glee for longtime series fans.
Those tweaks and simplifications that have been made are also well implemented, with the two-character system offering a few interesting gameplay scenarios and the partner AI (in singleplayer) being good enough at looking after itself that the game avoids turning into one long escort quest. Simple inventory management is also welcome, even if the game’s rudimentary crafting system feels like something of an afterthought.
If the ending seems brief and unsatisfying though, there’s a reason. It turns out that a (much better) alternative is tied rather unintuitively to the results of a certain event in episode three. It all makes perfect thematic sense with hindsight, but there’s nothing to indicate the future significance of the event at the time it happens, and the in-built instincts of most players will likely lead to a near mandatory replay of episode three.
Once the campaign is done (and in all probably partially re-done), a couple of bonus episodes help to fill in some gaps in the story. These add some new mechanics but re-use campaign environments and are a bit of a slog, so will probably only interest those keen to explore more of the narrative.
There’s more fun to be had in the Raid mode, a separate action-oriented option (complete with a gloriously incongruous arcade-style soundtrack) where the player takes on increasingly tough waves of enemies while trying to earn medals for certain play styles and achievements. There’s also a character progression element and local co-op here, and perforating zombie heads in a less oppressive and tense atmosphere turns out to be something of a blast.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 isn’t going to set the gaming world on fire, but it looks like it’s achieved what it set out to do. It’s solid – a fun enough and pretty good value package that will tide series fans over as they all wait to see what sort of monstrosity the next main game in the series will feature – or possibly, be.